It’s commonly believed that sexual assault often comes from strangers. But in most cases, the abuser turns out to be the victim’s spouse or partner. The victim can find themselves in a situation where they don’t know what to think or feel because they were abused by someone they trusted and loved. They can find it hard to call it abuse and thus, try to normalize the situation. And this attempt can make them too reluctant to leave their abuser, or cause them to feel partly responsible. Therefore, I’m going to focus on 15 sexual abuse scenarios that take place between couples.
Trying to persuade one into intercourse through emotional pressure
I believe this type of abuse to be the most common and also the most difficult one to define. There can be multiple methods to persuade someone into having intercourse. For instance, trying to make one jealous. If your partner is constantly comparing you to their former lovers in order to bend you to their will, if they’re implying that you’re not the only alternative, if they’re threatening you with leaving you for someone else; it means they’re emotionally pressuring you.
Another method is humiliation. For example, if they’re telling you things like ‘you’ve done all this with me, now no one else will ever want you’, then they’re trying to keep you by their side by shaming you.
2. The belief that since you had sex once, you can do it all the time now
The fact you already got intimate with your date, partner or spouse isn’t enough to make them feel like you should be willing to do it again and again. Just because you allowed it to happen once doesn’t mean you must let it happen again. Questions like ‘we’ve already done it once, why do you say no now?’ or ‘I know you’ve slept with others in the past, why do you reject me?’ count as abuse.
3. Being too insistent about sex
The most important criterion when it comes to sexual abuse is consent. But in some relationships, the abuser may try to gain consent by pressuring the other into it. For example, constantly asking for it and trying to coax their partner into it counts as abuse. Trying to overcome the issue of consent by doing something like this is quite unacceptable. Consent given after constant demands is no real consent. It’s merely submitting to the other’s emotional pressure. Trying to gain permission through emotional pressure, violence or threat counts as sexual abuse.
4. Taking pictures or recording it during sex without permission
It’s a crime to take pictures of someone when they’re naked or recording the intercourse without their absolute consent and knowledge. It’s still sexual abuse if you allowed them to do this in the past and therefore they’re using that as an excuse to do it again. Just because you allowed something to happen once (or several times) doesn’t mean you’ll always be okay with it.
These recordings and pictures can be used against you if you ever try to end the relationship. They can try to prevent you from dumping them by threatening to show these images and videos to other people. Remember that all sexual activities aiming to control, humiliate or punish someone count as sexual abuse.
5. Sending (without consent) or demanding sexual pictures
If you receive sexual photography without having asked for one, it’s sexual abuse. It doesn’t matter whether the sender is a stranger or a partner. At the same time, demanding sexual photography from you even though you made it clear that you don’t want to send any counts as sexual abuse.
6. Refusing to use protection or lying about it
Things such as a man refusing to use condoms or taking it off during sex or a woman lying about using birth control pills also count as sexual abuse. Besides, it can seriously affect a partner’s life since it can lead to unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.
7. One sided double standards.
It’s sexual abuse to ignore the other party’s needs and focus on one’s own. And if certain rules apply only to one of the parties; that’s also abuse.
8. Treating one’s partner like a sexual object
If someone thinks that they can touch their partner whenever they desire, they can have sex with them whenever they feel like it or if they force their partner to dress or behave in a certain way, they’re sexually abusing them.
9. Threatening to tell others
This is a sexual abuse especially common among young couples. When there’s a risk of breaking up, one of the parties can threaten the other about telling everything they’ve done together to their parents and friends. Trying to keep a relationship going by doing something like this is sexual abuse.
10. Making humiliating comments about one’s performance in bed
It’s sexually abusive to make humiliating, degrading and offensive comments or implications regarding your partner’s body or performance in bed. If you’re in a relationship with someone you don’t find appealing or don’t desire, you’re free to leave them but you can’t humiliate or disrespect them.
11. Ignoring the word ‘no’
During intercourse, you can find some things irritating and feel the need to stop or refuse certain requests. Your partner should accept and understand this. Otherwise, it counts as sexual abuse.
12. Forcing one into unwanted positions
Both parties have the right to have certain limits. It’s abusive to force someone into trying unwanted positions or fantasies. You should be able to choose to leave them if your desires, wishes and limits are too different from each other’s and if these differences are affecting your sexual life negatively. But you cannot force them into submitting to yours.
13. Trying to hurt the other without consent
It’s abusive to hurt or be too rough on a partner without their absolute consent.
14. Forcing one into intercourse when they’re unconscious
All kinds of sexual approaches count as abuse if one of the parties is under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, or if they’re not quite able to give consent for any other reason. In some conditions, the abuser supports the idea of taking alcohol or drugs but in some other scenarios the victim may have chosen to use alcohol or drugs willingly. Either way, if the person is not able to make a conscious decision or if they’re entirely unconscious, they cannot be forced into intercourse. Besides, if they were conscious at the beginning of the intercourse but lost consciousness during it, it counts as abuse to continue it.
15. Using the reward and punishment method
If your partner is using the reward and punishment method in order to make you submit to their wishes, it’s sexual abuse. In other words, if they’re ‘rewarding’ you with sex when you do something they want and ‘punishing’ you by giving the cold shoulder when you don’t; it also counts as abuse. Because it means they’re trying to control you by using sex.
So, is sexual abuse a ‘grey area’ with no visible boundaries?
Actually, not at all!
-If emotional or psychological manipulation is used in order to get one’s consent for sex;
-If there’s physical violence, threat or intimidation;
-If there’s shaming or humiliation;
-If there’s any activity taking place without consent, it’s sexual abuse.
All circumstances in which there’s manipulation, physical violence or boundary violation are unacceptable.
You can also find the articles on https://medium.com/@narsistsiz:
Mor Çatı. “Cinsel Şiddeti Dile Getirmek Güç Ama Mümkün”. https://www.morcati.org.tr/tr/yayinlarimiz/brosurler/185-cinsel-siddeti-dile-getirmek-guc-ama-mumkun.
Öngün, E. ve Ünsal, G. (2018), Üniversite Yaşamında Yakın İlişkiler ve İstismar, Jaren.
You can also check out my other articles on forms of abuse: